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Publisher's Summary

Something very strange -- and sinister -- is going on in the Russian woods at Borodino. In a place called Mrs. Ivanova's Charm School, young KGB agents are being taught by American POW's how to be model citizens of the USA. The Soviet goal -- to infiltrate the United States undetected.

When an unsuspecting American tourist stumbles upon this secret, he sets in motion a CIA investigation that will reveal horrifying police state savagery and superpower treachery.

©1999 Nelson DeMille (P)2009 Hachette

Critic Reviews

"Riveting." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Story
  • Xavier
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 12-05-11

Love to predict plot? Forget it! What a thriller!!

This book does not insult the intelligence. It feeds thrills upon thrills of unexpected plot twist and turns. I lost so many hours of sleep because I could not turn off my bedside compact audio book player tuned for 30 min and then sleep. I kept resetting it for another 30 min....and then another 30 minutes...and then...heck, I was so stimulated I could not sleep and had to take a sleep aid if I wanted 6.5 hours sleep before work. Nelson Demille has created a true fan in me. Just get this book. It is one of the best I have read in 60 years, to include 4.5 years as a USMC officer. Love spy craft? This is a fine read.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Char
  • Omaha, NE, United States
  • 11-07-09

Incredibly Good

I have read at least 200 books in the last couple of years and mostly murder mysteries. This book falls into that category but also a great history lesson with Russia in years past and possibly present. It is fiction, but truly possible. Maybe the Charm School itself is not truly realistic but it doesn't matter. This was a book that made me want to call in sick from work and just get into it until the end. It is not a happy book and not totally a happy ending but it is a glimpse of a piece of our history with Russia that certainly could have happened and in other ways, probably did. I consider this book one of two that I have read that I consider the best I've ever listened to. The other book of this caliber is "Black Cross" by Greg Iles. Do not miss this one either. I love murder mysteries with cops and robbers and all of that but these are truly special and not to be missed. I will definitely read this book and Black Cross again in the future. They are both astounding in my estimation.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 07-22-12

Creepy. And terrific.

This is a bit like "The Truman Show" mixed in with espionage and the KGB. The premise is plausible and that's what makes it SO terrifying. Of course there are some unbelievable events - that's fiction for you - but listening to this now reminded me of the fear we all had of the Russians back when I was a kid.

I never really knew how this would go and that's what I like about DeMille as an author. His books are just as good today as they are when they were new. This is a good, long listen.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • CBDC
  • Washington, DC USA
  • 11-26-09

Gripping and disturbing

Very very gripping. Scott Brick's reading is superb. He imitates accents and inflections really well. While I know the book is fiction. It's also feasible at least by analogy and in that disturbing.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dorothy
  • RarotongaCook Islands
  • 10-18-09

The Charm School

This is the best Audio Book I have listened to since joining many years ago. Scott Brick's naration is superb.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Marie
  • Arlington, TN, United States
  • 03-17-16

Could NOT stop listening!!!

Would you listen to The Charm School again? Why?

No, not because it was bad, but I know... I know... the gory details

Any additional comments?

Incredible plot: you get: intrigue, romance, spies, good & evil, drama and if you have ever been to Russia or former Soviet Union, you will giggle and laugh at how accurate Nelson DeMille's descriptions are, gosh, it was like I was there again!! He nails the small details, the pattern of thoughts, and the absolute corruption communism represents. But keep on reading, there is MORE!! The book has been very well researched and the information on the history and, at the time, current circumstances in the U.S.S.R. is absolutely correct. Dialogue is excellent, the characters are deep and their motives easily understood
Do get it - worth the price or the credit!!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Long But Worth The Time

DeMille has a talent of making me laugh even in the most outrageous circumstances. This was a very different setting than the typical DeMille books, but I found it to be very informative and entertaining. No matter what the subject matter, his dry humor and wit make his books interesting plus this one adds a history lesson. A little long and rambling in some spots, but easy to overlook if you just enjoy the story rather than analyze the circumstances behind it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I have listened to 2-3 books per month for 3 years. This is a top 5, for sure. I am going back to see what other Nelson DeMille books I will download next!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Really Chilling Book

I almost passed on this book. I could not see how
this supposed 'thriller' could be related to a 'Charm School'. Wow! Was I ever wrong.
The detailed description of the Country was so thorough I felt as though I were on a tour.
I love this author. Mr. Brick did a yeoman's job
The last quarter of the story was totally unexpected.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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One of the best books ever!!!

What made the experience of listening to The Charm School the most enjoyable?

This book was scary and very conceivable

Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

This is Scott Brick at his best

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes - when they thought that they were to leave the country by plane.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful